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Backpacking for Beginners: What You Need to Know

backpacking for beginners

While backpacking and hiking are often referred to in an extremely casual tone, the truth is that going on a backpacking excursion without being properly prepared and equipped can quickly transform and enjoyable experience into a horrible nightmare. That’s when this backpacking for beginners guide can help.

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In order to get the most out of a hiking or backpacking adventure, it’s important you are as prepared for what you will experience as possible. There are a number of elements associated with hiking that will be essential to your safety and enjoyment.

Always Plan Ahead of Time

One of the most common causes of negative backpacking experiences is failing to plan ahead, which subsequently results in encountering the unexpected, such as an uncrossable river or poor weather. However, planning ahead will allow you to identify potential impediments and dangers, so that you will be able to map out the hiking path to circumvent them.

Believe it or not, there are people who literally overlook the need for a dependable off-road vehicle like a Jeep Cherokee to get to the hiking spot. The best backpacking areas are rarely near a paved road.

One thing that should be considered when planning a backpacking get away is to factor in your level of fitness. While it may be tempting to be overzealous in choosing the difficulty of the terrain, it can ultimately create a significant obstacle for you. Choose a backpacking trail that has a difficulty rating that is within the scope of your level of fitness.

Make Sure to Pack the Necessary Equipment

As part of the planning process, you will need to determine the duration of the hiking excursion. The duration will dictate the necessary equipment. Obviously, an overnight hike will require more equipment than the average two-hour up and back hike. If you are planning on staying overnight, you will need to ensure that you have the necessary equipment, such as a tent, food packs and an adequate water supply, for starters.

If backpacking is new for you, you will probably want to minimize your initial costs, because there is a chance that you may not like it. New hackers have a proclivity to overspend when they first start. While you want to ensure that you have everything you need, you don’t need to buy everything that the outdoor store is selling.

Don’t Go Backpacking Alone

Even the most experience hikers make it a practice to hike with a partner. Because of the unpredictability and the rapid change in terrain, the risk of injury or getting lost is high, especially for a new hiker. By partnering with someone, there will be a person who can go for help if necessary. Additionally, a partner will be able to assist in the navigation responsibilities.

So much goes into planning a safe and enjoyable backpacking outing, including choosing the right style of backpack. It is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all backpacking experience. It will ultimately be what you make it as you plan it out. Remaining within the capabilities dictated by your experience and fitness level will go a long way in creating an enjoyable experience.

Sean Whistler is a seasoned traveller. Having had to slow down slightly due to 2 kids and 2 dogs, not forgetting the wife, he has taken to getting his dose of travel in by blogging.

Image Credit: Traveling Nomad, Creative Commons Zero

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